Wednesday, July 1, 2015

When my heart is overwhelmed...

"Oh, that I had wings like a dove, 
I would fly away and be at rest." Psalm 55:6

That verse comes to mind when life gets overwhelming,
when the counseling load is heavy,
when people I care about are struggling,
when violence and hatred and strife and lawlessness seem to be winning,
when good is called evil and evil is called good,
when all the voices out there seem so loud,
when I wonder what the future holds,
it's at times like these that flying away is tempting.

When I get that feeling that seems to come from somewhere between my stomach and heart,
a feeling of restlessness and anxiety,
sometimes I do actually "fly" away, 
or drive, as the case may be, since we only live 80 miles from the beach.
I walk by the sea, 
walking for miles, literally.
While I walk
 I sing,
give thanks,
and breathe.

I'm thankful that we were able to "fly away and be at rest" for two days this week.
Tomorrow morning we go home and get back to work.
But, how do I cope when life gets overwhelming and I can't get away?

Read the Word and journal.
I'm reading through the Bible this year with She Reads Truth.
Currently, their reading plan has me in Luke and 2 Chronicles.
It's amazing that God seems to speak to me about something pertinent to my current circumstances
 no matter where I'm reading.
I also journal what stands out to me in the Word, things God is speaking to my heart, 
prayers, and things that I need to process by writing them down.

Do something active.
I may not be able to get away, but I can at least open my front door and go for a walk or a run.
In the past, I've had a grumpy, "I'm going to blow up" feeling totally dissipate just by getting some good exercise.
For a change of pace and to let the beauty of nature minister to my spirit,
there are local fitness and hiking trails and walkways beside the river that I can go to.
Sometimes, it's tempting to cope with feeling stressed or overwhelmed by eating.
In the end, that just makes me feel worse.

There's a whole lot going on in this world that is no laughing matter.
Laughter is good medicine that we all need.
Getting together with friends that make me laugh is always a good idea.

Do something for someone else.
Pray for someone else, write an encouraging note, visit someone lonely.
There have been times that I've been at my personal wit's end, 
but as a pastor's wife I've still had to pray for or minister to someone else anyway,
and almost always, God blesses me when I bless others.

Pray and obey, letting God have your day.
I get overwhelmed when life gets too busy, there's a lot of change happening around me,
or several big events happening in a short amount of time.
At times like that, it helps me to write down everything I can think of that I will need to do,
a master overview type list,
otherwise I worry that there are things I should be doing that I'm forgetting.
Then, I make a daily list, asking God to help me and bring His order into my day.
Whenever I do that, I find my day going much more smoothly.

Take time for the hobbies that nourish your soul.
I actually think human beings were made in the image of the Creator with an innate need to create.
I love photography, writing, crafting, doodling and painting, decorating and cooking.
I often find myself humming, singing or whistling when I'm doing these things,
a sure sign that it really is good for what ails me.

There's nothing that the devil likes more than to get us all riled up and overwhelmed
 so we'll shut up and stop worshipping.
I like to turn off all the other noise of this world, 
put some of my favorite worship music on,
and sing along.

Watch what you say.
I'm a firm believer in speaking the Word of God aloud.
I have a list of life verses that I like to pray aloud frequently.
I don't want to add to my own troubles by speaking doom and gloom, unbelief and faithlessness.

Do what I can and leave the rest to God.
Sometimes, social media can be a big guilt producer.
I've probably been guilty of using it in that way, too.
This post says to do something about racism.
That post says do something about sex trafficking.
Another post says, help the martyrs and the persecuted Christians.
Another reminds us that we should be feeding the poor.
I wish I really could change the world and make all the wrong things right singlehandedly.
The truth is, it can get so overwhelming, that we end up doing nothing about anything.
I also think that we can get so "big picture" cause focused,
that we neglect to do the things God has for us to do right under our nose.
Instead, I try to follow God's leading about what things I am to focus on,
then I ask God what is on His heart for me to say, to raise awareness,
and what is in His heart for me to do, to get involved.
There are other things I have to simply pray about and leave in God's hands.

These are some of the ways that I cope when I'm feeling overwhelmed but I can't escape.
But when I can getaway?
Well, there's not much that a walk by the sea can't make better.
It may not bring world peace,
but it brings peace to me.

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  1. Such sound advice -- coupled with gorgeous photos. You are reminding me of Psalm 121. Not to the hills should we look -- or fly! My help comes from the Lord who made the hills! Blessings, Elizabeth!

    1. Thank you so much, Michele! I'm so glad you popped in!

  2. Great post and wonderful photos. Just what my overwhelmed heart needed this morning. My heart has been feeling overwhelmed and I have been longing to fly away to the beach. My sweetheart and I want to find a time - and a way - to get away together to the coast sometime soon. But I am taking my little trailer and 'flying away' to meet camping girlfriends at the Central Coast next week. I hope for some time alone to walk on the beach and sing and pray and set my heart in a place of rest. The load gets heavy for all of us but Jesus calls us to take His yoke and find rest. What better place than the beach?

  3. The beach is my place of peace, and my 'thoughtful' soul centering space. I am at home with the sound of the waves. good thoughts, i pray you return more rested and less stressed.

  4. Elizabeth, I don't know if you did it on purpose (betcha did!) but the photos went from grayer to brighter at the end.
    Wonderful photo essay--such wise words.

    1. The photos were in chronological order, from the evening we first arrived at the beach to the next morning. But, yes, I did notice that they went from darker to lighter and I enjoyed how it emphasized the text.

  5. I love living close to the coast, and there's no place better for the spirit and soul. Thanks for this timely post.

  6. Thank you for this encouraging post & the beautiful pictures. I wish that we lived closer to the ocean because it soothes my soul. I am trying more & more to do the things that you have shared. I want to draw closer & closer to Him. You & your blog help me to see & understand things in such a positive light. Again you are a light shining for Him in this world. Blessings to you my sweet friend!

    1. Blessings to you too, friend. You are a gift!

  7. Such wise, practical advice here, Elizabeth! Thank you for sharing. I love to journal -- it helps keep me sane, and re-visiting old journals helps me remember that God has always been faithful and will continue to show up for me every day of my life.


    1. Thank you so much, Lyli! I've revisited the truth you mentioned again just today, my God is faithful and can be trusted.

  8. First of all the photos are incredible--secondly, my heart has felt somewhat overwhelmed lately with all you mentioned above and believe it or not--guess where I was thinking about flying away to--your place--I sold a couple of big canvases lately and had a little more spending money than I normally have and yes, that was the first thought that came to my mind--fly to Elizabeth's and we'll go to the coast--we'll talk, we'll worship, we'll walk, we'll be quiet and not feel the need for talk--well, of course, I am only flying away there in my mind and spirit--but it is still a great thought--love you--this was just what I needed!

    1. Oh Dianne, how lovely time by the sea with you would be! Heaven on earth!

  9. Hi Elizabeth! Those photos are really beautiful, just like the last commenter said. I wouldn't want to leave there either! I think you are heading home today, and I know that you will heed some of your own advice and stay in that 'vacation mode of life' for a while. I was right with you on your description of a walk by the water. Love that!!!
    God keep you safe, and have a wonderful 4th celebration.

    1. Ceil, are you a lover of walks by the sea as well? I appreciate your encouragement to me, by the way.

  10. Great stress-busters! All of them. (Can't help being jealous of your location so near the sea...)

    1. Rebecca, we travel a lot to the mid west and my husband teases about moving there and I tell him that I can't live that far from the sea!

  11. What a great post and I am so glad that you were able to get away for a few days and the pictures are just lovely. Your other steps are great too and so very helpful. Thank you for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings


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